By James Tonkowich, ReligionToday.com columnist
“I have seen too much loneliness and unhappiness,” writes Anthony Esolen in the Prologue to his book Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity, “too much chaos without and deadness of heart within, to pretend that that moral law that all people accepted until a few years ago, even if they sometimes fell afoul of it, does not still hold true, and does not still offer men and women their best chance for happiness in this life. We may obey or not; but the penalty for disobedience isn’t ours to determine, no more than if we leapt from a cliff, intending to fly by flapping our arms. Nature is not obliged to confirm our self-deceit.”
Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College, uses his considerable wit and insight to break our self-deceit, the lies we tell ourselves about life, sex, meaning, and marriage.
And he pulls no punches: “Our children witness perversions of all kinds, and no one cares, because we have become a pornographic people, even if we do not all gaze at the pictures. This is because we accept the principle undergirding the pornography, which is that the pursuit of sexual gratification is a good thing, maybe the greatest good of all, and trumps all other considerations, such as the health of marriages generally, the welfare and innocence of children, the promotion of virtue, and the common good.”
We live in a culture, he argues, where we have been repeatedly told that men are not for women and that women are not for men, that men and women are interchangeable, that sexual differences are illusory, “that our sexual powers are for ourselves alone,” and that gender can be customized. Such an environment, he writes, “is an acid bath for love. It cannot kill all of the love between men and women, but it will kill much of that love, and it must inevitably corrode or curdle or cramp much of the rest.”